March 26, 2014

The Obama Doctrine: When Does Caution Become Retreat?

Source: Breaking Defense

Journalist: James Kitfield

The juxtaposition of recent images was jarring: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel unveiling a defense budget that substantially shrinks the U.S. Army, while insisting that “after Iraq and Afghanistan, we are no longer sizing the military to conduct long and large stability operations.” And then there were the images of masked Russian troops seizing Crimea and threatening to carve apart Ukraine with naked aggression.

President Barack Obama has honed the themes of military restraint and economic renewal into something like a doctrine – a core principle around which national security and foreign affairs policies could be organized and prioritized. Sensing the mood of a war-weary public and Congress, Obama was bent on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and appears equally determined to avoid further military entanglements. After a decade of conflict, the Great Recession and an unprecedented rise in national debt, he not unreasonably decided that the United States was in danger of strategic and economic over-extension, the bane of great powers and empires throughout history.


  • David W. Barno

  • USA (Ret.)